It seems like only yesterday that my children were young, and I was in the season of parenting that required seemingly endless hands-on teaching, training and correcting. Today, my children are grown. My youngest grandchild is 19, and I have four young great-grandchildren.
My mother once told me that her parenting didn’t end when I became an adult; it just changed her concerns and our relationship. I agree with her. I have now personally experienced the joy and pain of stepping back, encouraging and watching my adult children launch their own lives. Although I made many mistakes along the way, I’ve somehow done enough right that I still have influence in their lives. Isn’t that one thing we want as parents, to be a positive influence in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives? I can’t express the depth of feeling it brings when my adult children or grandchildren seek my help, opinion or advice.
Being a positive influence in the lives of those we love can encompass an almost endless list of things, including how we love each other, our faith, how we serve and treat others, hobbies and finances. Here, we’ll focus on your financial influence on the next generation.
It’s not how much money you have, but rather your relationship with it that matters. Consider that those who are wealthy can be greedy and always grasping for more, hoarding their funds to the detriment of their employees and the needs of those around them — or they can be philanthropic and generous, using their resources to serve and help others. A financially poor person also can be a greedy grasper, always focused on money or their lack thereof, or they can set an example of giving. What does your relationship with money look like?
Your attitude toward and relationship with money, and how you handle it — what you say about it and how you approach your financial obligations — is more important than your bank account balance. This is one way your financial influence is passed to your loved ones. Remember, our children see and know more than we often give them credit for. In fact, they sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. What do your children see in you?
What is your life telling your children about money? Never underestimate the strength, good or bad, of your example, of your courage to demonstrate what life can be when you make wise financial decisions and live within your means. Just as an inheritance is a financial legacy, so, too, is your example. No matter where they go or what they do in life, your children and grandchildren will carry this legacy forward.
If you have handled your finances properly and are setting a good example, I congratulate you and encourage you not only to continue, but to be purposeful in training others. All too often, financial training is lacking in young people’s lives. They can’t know what they haven’t been taught, so take the time to teach.
Perhaps your example is not one you wish for your children or grandchildren to replicate. The good news is that while you draw breath, there is hope, and you can transform your financial example from a poor to a positive one. It will take work, discipline and self-sacrifice, but the long-term results will be life changing. Reach out and ask for help. I believe in you, and now it’s time to begin believing in yourself.